Monday, August 27, 2012

CN Canadian Women's Open Overview: 15-Year-Old Lydia Ko Makes 1st LPGA Win Look Easy

It's a good thing that I was too busy to blog about the CN Canadian Women's Open as it was happening.  Because I totally would have made a fool of myself by repeating how wonderful it was that 15-year-old Lydia Ko was playing so well right after winning the U.S. Women's Amateur, but that there was no way that she would be able to continue hanging in there against the LPGA's top guns.

On Thursday, I would have focused on the brewing showdown between Class of 2008ers Ya Ni Tseng and Na Yeon Choi.  I would have celebrated my junior golf buddy Moira Dunn's appearance on the leaderboard (and our TV screens), emphasized that Inbee Park's 68 put her in position to take the title of LPGA's hottest golf away from Mika Miyazato (71), So Yeon Ryu (73), and Shanshan Feng (75), noted that longer hitters like Jee Young Lee, Angela Stanford, Vicky Hurst, and Amy Yang were finding Vancouver Country Club congenial to their games, and--oh, yeah--praised Ko for a fantastic start (while hinting that I didn't think it would last).

On Friday, I would have been blown away by Chella Choi's near-course record 64, ecstatic that Moira Dunn was in the hunt, excited by the prospect of recent CWO champion Suzann Pettersen moving onto the 1st page of the leaderboard, and bemoaning the fact that Ai Miyazato, In-Kyung Kim, So Yeon Ryu, Danielle Kang, Momoko Ueda, and Ayaka Kaneko had missed the cut.  I think I would have made a pretty big deal of Ko sharing the 36-hole lead in a week when Lexi Thompson and Ariya Jutanugarn both missed the cut, but again, I would have been comparing her with other young phenoms, not at all suggesting that she would play as well on the weekend in the final group as she had when she was comparatively under the radar.

On Saturday, I would have sympathized with Ko's troubles on the green (the 3 3-putts and 2 missed tiny birdie putts), praised her for holding it together with a 72 nonetheless, and quickly turned my attention to the 4 golfers right behind her.  Stacy Lewis's 66 showed what the money-list leader is capable of when she gets on a roll.  Ji-Yai Shin's 69 gave the former world #1 a chance to reclaim her "Final Round Queen" crown.  Inbee Park was rolling along with her 3rd-straight under-par round of the week and 14th in a row since her weak weekend at Blackwolf Run forced her to accept her worst finish since the Wegmans LPGA Championship in early June (that is, T9).  And Chella Choi, despite her troubles backing up her super-low Friday round, was still in great position for her 1st LPGA victory.  I would have continued to praise Moira Dunn for following up my anxious advice from last Tuesday--"She needs to back up that T20 from Alabama--and soon!"--with some very good golf.  And I would have given a lot of credit to rookie Sydnee Michaels and one of my faves, Mina Harigae, for putting themselves in the mix alongside the likes of Anna Nordqvist, Na Yeon Choi, Angela Stanford, and Suzann Pettersen.  But I would have been strongly implying that Ko had no chance on Sunday.

It would have been even worse if I had been not-quite-live-blogging the final round.  Na Yeon Choi's charge, Anna Nordqvist's hot start, Ji-Yai Shin's comeback from her early implosion, Inbee Park's steady brilliance, Stacy Lewis's struggles, Chella Choi's mid-round burst...all would have taken on added significance when Lydia Ko fluffed her little chip from the back of the green on the par-3 7th and narrowly-avoided double bogey to drop back to -9 after starting with 2 birdies in her 1st 6 holes.  That was it, I would have written.  The moment when reality set in and the best golfers in the world took center stage away from the 15-year-old phenom had arrived.  But Ko flipped the script, making 4 birdies in a row to start the back 9 and 5 in her 1st 6 holes.  She left the LPGA's finest in the dust and made it look easy.  Youngest winner on the LPGA by well over a year?  No problem!  1st amateur to win on the LPGA in my lifetime?  Piece of cake.

I'll let finer writers than me put this all in perspective and close with one of Ko's favorite words from her absolutely charming victory speech:  "Awesome!"


Anonymous said...

You were right on the money with your view round by round. I thought after the first round she had a shot, and after the second round she had a pretty good shot. The match play at the U.S. Amateur win toughened her up.

When I watch events like the X-Games I am so impressed to see pre-teens trying amazing stunts that were unimaginable a few years ago and competing at such a high level. Fearless. That pretty much discribes Lydia Ko this weekend.

sports medic

Cool Clubs said...

Good for her!!! :)

Tony Jesselli (Tonyj5) said...

I was there. Saw it first hand. It was amazing. Going home Tuesday.

Mike said...

Just for the record, Lydia is now #45 on the Rolex World Rankings.

I'll be interested to see how she does at the Women's British Open... and if she's picked up a little of that aura Yani had for so long. Can a 15-year-old actually intimidate the best in the world?

In any case, she'll still be smiling.

Anonymous said...

Scroll down a few spots in the Rolex and you'll find a certain former teen phenom.